Like the Tree by Oh Sae-young

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid


Photographed by Laurie Kopack

Like the Tree by Oh Sae-young

As trees get along with trees,
so we should live,
as boughs holding each other’s hands
endure a long cold season.

As trees look upwards to a clear sky,
so we should live,
as leaves open up their hearts
to take in lovely sunlight.

As trees grow amid rain and wind,
so we should grow,
as their deep roots
tenaciously withstand a ferocious storm.

As trees by themselves can discern each season,
so we should live.
They know when a flower emerges and a leaf falls,
and know simply when to step back.

나무처럼/ 오세영

나무가 나무끼리 어울려 살듯
우리도 그렇게
살 일이다.
가지와 가지가 손목을 잡고
긴 추위를 견디어 내듯

나무가 맑은 하늘을 우러러 살듯
우리도 그렇게
살 일이다.
잎과 잎들이 가슴을 열고
고운 햇살을 받아 안듯

나무가 비바람 속에서 크듯
우리도 그렇게
클 일이다.
대지에 깊숙이 내린 뿌리로
사나운 태풍 앞에 당당히 서듯

나무가 스스로 철을 분별할 줄을 알듯
우리도 그렇게
살 일이다.
꽃과 잎이 피고 질 때를
그 스스로 물러설 때를 알 듯

Oh Sae-young (1942~ ) was born in Yeongkwang, Jeollanam-do. He is both a prolific poet and critic. He has published eighteen collections of poetry. His lyrical poetry is known for its simplicity; it is often imbued with Buddhist imagination of the emptiness of self and nonattachment to materialism. After years of shuttling between academia and creative writing, he has recently retired from teaching at Seoul National University. Oh is a recipient of many prestigious awards including the Sowol Poetry Award, the Jung Ji-yong Literary Award, and the Manhae Literary Award.

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